A Passion for American Art

I’m on a second pass through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity . In addition to reading weekly essays, writing my three daily stream-of-consciousness “pages” (I don’t do mine in the morning) and taking my inner artist on a date each week, I’ve been tackling the series of tasks Cameron lays out for each phase of the Way. Some are easy and entertaining, like list five hobbies that sound fun, and some are not, like list five old enemies. There are also tasks that just feel stupid. Cameron encourages working especially on those.

For Week 5: Recovering a Sense of Possibility I was confronted with one of those “stupid” tasks: List ten items I would like to own that I don’t. I get that the goal is to articulate desire and differentiate preference. . . I like this and not that. . . In a sea of possibilities, these are the ones that speak to me particularly, and that’s then where I should focus time and energy digging deeper and going further. Nevertheless, my inner Judeo-Marxist who takes Jesus at his word to “consider the lilies,” recoils at the idea of celebrating the stockpiling of earthly treasure.

A hallmark of Cameron’s Way, is one’s increasing experience of “synchronicity.” The same effect has been given different names by many others: karma, faith, the Promise, fairy dust. . . Regardless, it’s hard to dispute the sort of cosmic science at work when the Universe always seems to manage to manifest the new tools I need, just when I need them. It’s practically Newtonian.

And so it goes, that the week I’m resisting writing about ten things I’d like to own, I get invited to the press preview of a major museum exhibition featuring 200 important, beautiful things one Marblehead couple chose to own.

Best known for heading Fidelity’s Magellan Fund, the best performing fund in the world, Peter Lynch and his wife Carolyn, through travel, exploration, and intellectual curiosity, amassed a broad ranging personal collection of American painting, furniture and decorative arts.


So, I’ll do the task, but in my own way. Rather than flipping through catalogs from Ikea or Sotheby’s and lusting after objects that would no doubt make life better if only I possessed them, I’ll identify ten objects I will never own, but that do spark joy from the exhibition catalog of A Passion for American Art: Selections from the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Collection at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum through December 1, 2019.


  1. J.O.J. Frost, The March into Boston from Marblehead, April 16, 1861: There Shall be No More War, about 1925. Oil on fiberboard. Gift of Peter S. Lynch in memory of Carolyn A. Lynch. Photography by Kathy Tarantola/Peabody Essex Museum

2. John Singer Sargent, Olive Trees, Corfu, 1909. Oil on canvas. Collection of Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch. Photography by Bob Packert/Peabody Essex Museum.

3. Dale Chihuly, Aphrodite Blue Persian Set with Carnelian Lip Wraps, 2002. Molded and blown glass. Collection of Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Stephen Petegorsky.

4., 5., 6., 7., 8. View of Dining Area, Peter Lynch Boston House. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Stephen Petegorsky.

9. Otto Natlzer and Gertrud Amon Natzler, Left to right: six plates. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Stephen Petegorsky.

10. Sam Maloof with Mike Johnson, Larry White, and David Wade, Rocking Chair, 2005. Walnut. Collection of Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Stephen Petegorsky

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